WISCASSET — Tasha Dyer looked at her boyfriend, Dylan Turner, and looked at the car that minutes ago, had been on fire, with him behind the wheel.

“I thought he was dead,” Dyer said.

Turner was OK, and so was his car. The problem had been simply a fuel cap that wasn’t on straight. So when fire shot from the rear of the car just as Turner started his heat race for Wiscasset Speedway’s Boss Hogg 100, the damage was minimal.

The incident was just an exciting, albeit dangerous, moment in what has been a solid season on the track for Turner, 21, of Freedom.

When the green flag came out, Turner took off. He hadn’t yet made it to the first turn when the fire started.

“I saw flames in my rearview (mirror),” Turner said. “The gas hit the tires and sent me into the wall. I didn’t hit it that hard.”

The damage to Turner’s car was relegated to the front end, where he hit the tire wall at turn two. As the red flag came out, Turner jumped out of the car and was fine.

“It was so scary. I’ve never seen that before,” Dyer, herself a racer, said. “It could’ve been worse.”

After a brief trip to the pits, Turner completed the heat, finishing sixth in a seven car field. It meant that he would start the Boss Hogg 100 near the back, but he would start.

It wasn’t what Turner expected earlier, as he walked to the prerace driver’s meeting.

Turner took a sip of water and walked into the meeting. In a minute, the drivers competing in the Boss Hogg 100 would draw cigars to determine heat seedings for the night. Turner was relaxed.

“Tasha’a drawing it,” he said. “She asked me if she could. Now, the pressure’s on her.”

Turned out, the pressure wasn’t on Dyer, who decided to let Turner draw his own cigar.

“I’m nervous. I’m not being responsible,” Dyer said.

Turner did OK, drawing the cigar with the No. 5 sticker just below the tip. That meant he’d be at the outside pole position in the first of three heats to determine positioning for the Boss Hogg 100.

It’s been a good year of racing for Turner, a Mt. View High School graduate. On July 12, he took a Prostock win at Wiscasset Speedway, and he was looking forward to a strong finish to the season.

“I’m all set until the heat race,” Turner said as he checked his tire pressure.

Racing is a way of life for Turner, who got into the sport because his father, Tim Turner, and other family members also race. Entering Saturday’s race, Turner was in eighth place in Wiscasset Speedway’s Prostock points standings.

Turner ran his first race when he was 14.

“I wasn’t out there to compete. I was out there to get a seed time,” Turner said.

He’s become more competitive as he’s gotten older and more confident on the track. Dyer said a strength of Turner is his track demeanor.

“He’s very patient, and he keeps calm,” Dyer said.

In May, Turner placed 18th in the Coastal 200, the largest race of the season at Wiscasset Speedway. With nearly every caution, Turner was in the pits, trying to figure out what was causing the rear of his car to feel loose. A passenger side belt had broken.

Turner hopes to race enough to earn the points needed for a track championship.

“I work on (the car) most every day, every week,” Turner said.

Even with the frightening start to his day Saturday, Turner wasn’t discouraged.

“It’s the adrenaline. How do you explain it,” he asked Dyer. “It’s an addiction. Once it’s in you, it’s in you.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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